Peter Barry
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Theory before ‘theory’
in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
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This chapter begins by explaining the rise of English studies by indicating what higher education was like in England until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. A STOP and THINK section includes multiple choice questions that indicate the scope of this chapter. F. D. Maurice regarded literature as the particular property of the middle class and the expression of their values. For him the middle class represents the essence of Englishness so middle-class education should be specifically English. The chapter presents a list of the values and beliefs which formed the English subject's half-hidden curriculum. It sketches out a characteristic liberal humanist reading of Edgar Allan Poe's tale 'The Oval Portrait'. The growth of critical theory in the post-war period seems to comprise a series of 'waves', each associated with a specific decade, and all aimed against the liberal humanist consensus.

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Beginning theory (fourth edition)

An introduction to literary and cultural theory


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